Desktop: Comparison Shopping

Building a network of smart shoppers with ScanR can be your key weapon in keeping costs down.

shopping cart 88 (photo credit: )
shopping cart 88
(photo credit: )
Feeling a little thinner lately - even if you haven't been trying to diet? It's most likely that space in your wallet where the money used to be. Usually, companies jack up the prices of things gradually, hoping nobody will notice (but we do anyway). But recently, prices on lots of basic items - like food, gas, electricity, etc. - have been going up so fast, there's no longer anything subtle about it. It's like we get socked in the wallet every time we walk into the grocery store. By now, we're all experts on where the new inflation is coming from: the weak dollar; strong demand from China; droughts, floods, global warming or an impending ice age (take your pick). Bottom line: We poor schnooks are about to get poorer. But there is a way you can fight back - through comparison shopping. There's an old saying in retail: Someone, somewhere, is always selling it cheaper. How many times have we kicked ourselves when we heard (after the fact) that Store B was selling what we bought at Store A for 10 percent less? It's enough to make a conscientious consumer cry. But thanks to Web 2.0 technology, you don't have to be in 10 places at the same time to comparison shop. ScanR ( lets you take photos with your mobile phone and send them on to your home or office computer - or other users' e-mail addresses. ScanR, in other words, can be your key weapon in keeping costs down, because you can use it to build a network of smart shoppers who can keep each other informed on where to find the bargains. So how do you save the big shekels? Sign up for ScanR, open a free account and start snapping away. ScanR is designed for text on paper or signs, handwritten text and whiteboards - all of which are used to display prices in the supermarket. You send the photo from your phone using e-mail or MMS messaging services (it works with the mobile version of Gmail, so you can use it even if you don't have an e-mail account with your phone service provider). Send the image as an attachment to yourself, cc'ing everyone else on your network, while they do the same when they shop. When all the scans are in, start comparison shopping - and start saving big.